Thursday, October 14

Lessons from Saints - Pope Callistus I

Today is the feast of pope Callistus I, martyr and saint. Born into slavery, he was owned by a Christian. Wrongly accused of theft, he was sentenced to work in the tin mines of Sardinia. He was bought out of slavery by a priest and became the caretaker of a cemetery on the Appian way, when he was ordained as a deacon. From there, he became an arch-deacon, then the sixteenth pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Callistus is known primarily for his heretical beliefs, such as allowing women into religious study, permitting bishops, priests and deacons to remarry, allowing those who have performed penance to receive communion, and condoning marriage outside of one's own social status. Legend has it that he was martyred by a riotous mob who threw him into a well with a millstone around his neck.

Callistus held a model of the church where mercy and love ruled the house of God, where people were brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of social status and where forgiveness and tolerance was vital to the body of Christ.

We could learn much from him.

Callistus, may we learn from your example and build a church filled with forgiveness and tolerance. Inspire us to work for equality and justice knowing that mercy flows from God and love of the other is at the heart of Christ's teachings.

Thanks be to God.

P.S. - I find it interesting to note that Pope Callistus I was never formally ordained a priest and that it was commonplace (perhaps even expected) in that time that ordained clergy of all levels to be married.

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